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DALE AIRFIELD

GRID REFERENCE: SM 796067
AREA IN HECTARES: 173

Historic Background
High sea cliffs border this historic landscape character area to the west and southwest. Apart from these and a farm known as The Hookses, the remains of a World War 2 airfield comprise the entire area. This area lies almost entirely within the parish of Dale, which is more-or-less coterminous with the medieval Manor of Dale. This formed a subordinate, mesne lordship of the barony of Walwyn’s Castle, assessed as one knight’s fee, with a caput probably in the vicinity of the present village. The manor had, by the 13th century at least, been acquired by the de Vale dynasty and in 1307 ‘The heirs of Robert de Vale hold one knight’s fee at Dale containing 10 carucates’. North of the village, and within this character area, lay commons on which the tenants preserved the right of depasturing cattle, after the lord of the manor had cleared off the hay, into the 19th century. Henry VII apparently granted this privilege. Dalehill Farm partly underlies the airfield and is probably to be associated with the ‘Hill’ (or ‘Le Hull’), where Robert de Vale ‘and his ancestors’ held their manorial tenant’s court. Robert de Vale died c. 1300 and the manor of Dale was divided between his daughters as co-heiresses. It found its way into the hands of the Walter family of Rosemarket who continued to hold Dale until the late 17th century when it passed to the Allens of Gelliswick, and then to the Lloyd-Philipps family who still possess Dale Castle. The Hookses farm was first recorded in 1713. Prior to construction of the airfield the landscape was entirely agricultural consisting of farms – West Point, Longlands and Hooks Vale (only Hooks Vale – now the Hookses – survives) - with small linear fields and/or small irregular fields. These fields were the enclosed strips of an open- or strip-field system. Similar fields can still be seen to the east of the airfield. The airfield opened in 1942. Wellington bombers operated from Dale. Their mission was to attack submarines in the Atlantic as well as their ports. Because of its relative remoteness Dale became a training centre as well as a research and development centre. The Coastal Command Development Unit was based at Dale and Angle. Dale airfield closed within five years of the cessation of hostilities.

Base map reproduced from the OS map with the permission of Ordnance Survey on behalf of The Controller of Her Majesty's Stationery Office, Crown Copyright 2001.
All rights reserved. Unauthorised reproduction infringes Crown Copyright and may lead to prosecution or civil proceedings. Licence Number: GD272221

 

Description and essential historic landscape components
This historic landscape character area is covered by the remains of the World War 2 airfield. The runways and perimeter roads remain, albeit overgrown, and many of the accommodation buildings survive, although in a derelict state. Apart from the creation of rough boundary banks from bulldozed rubble very little land restoration has been undertaken. The areas between the concrete runways and roads are given over to rough grazing and are divided by wire fences. The only inhabited building is the Hookses farmhouse, which is unlisted and tucked away in a hollow on the cliff tops.

This is a very well defined historic landscape area as it is bounded either by farmland or by sea-cliffs.

Sources: Air Ministry Plans D-21, D-21a; Calendar of Charter Rolls 2; Charles 1992; Dale Parish Tithe Map 1847; Ludlow, in Crane forthcoming; Ordnance Survey 6” to 1 mile 1st Ed XXXII, 1887; Owen 1911; Owen 1918

 

 

 

 

 

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